The Inane Fear Of Missing Out

fomoMy youngest niece turned one on August 17, 2011. While my family gathered in Maryland to celebrate her brand new life, I sat on a ratty chair in my Massachusetts studio apartment pretty much hating my life. They called me so I could hear them sing Happy Birthday to her. I started crying and abruptly hung up before they could reach the end of the chant. That moment stood out as the first time in my post grad life that I was missing out. It certainly wouldn’t be the last.

During the sixteen months that I lived in first Massachusetts and then Texas, I missed out on a lot. I missed birthdays and happy hours. I missed Easter at church with my mom and Memorial Day BBQs with my friends. I missed inside jokes and introductions to new buddies. I’d like to think what I gained by swimming in a shark-ridden ocean of independence outweighed what I missed. But, maybe I just like to think that to soften the blow.

This post materialized only a few hours ago on the cusp of a quiet work day when I talked to my coworker homies about what is commonly referred to as “Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).” FOMO seems to be a plague among twenty-somethings, self included at times. And, the people who never chuck the habit post twentyhood are those old asses in the club creeping the rest of us out.

Being in your twenties curses you with an insatiable need to make memories so you can store them up for the many winters when you are old and gray. You want the memories to mentally snack on, delicious morsels of youth that will no longer be a staple of your diet by then. And, everything can become a memory. Every happy hour, weekend trip, or bar excursion provides an excuse to act with reckless abandon just so you have the anecdote stored for later.

But, sometimes memory-making slips into a gripping fear of missing out. God forbid you are not privy to the context of inside jokes. God forbid you do not understand the reference to someone passing out after being 50 shades of drunk. God forbid you, well, miss out.

Fear of missing out is a fraction of the reason I’m locked in to a trip to Dominican Republic in about seven short weeks. And, because I know my traveling compatriots will see this, I have to offer the disclaimer that I absolutely love you all and I am excited for our trip. :) However, by the time my dwindling pockets caught up to my logic, I felt the fear of missing out submerge me in a pit of poor judgment. Of course I’m going on this trip come hell or high credit card balance. Fucking FOMO.

The sobering reality is that we will miss out. We will miss shit. Because paths diverge and people change. It’s the simplest concept yet sometimes the most difficult to accept when our hands are still stained with the ink of our last college exam. We leave the inebriated cosmos of university and fail to realize no one’s lives follow the same ticks on one universal timeline. We will all make decisions about our personal and professional lives at completely different times. We may move or produce offspring or fall in love. We will grow up, grow apart and just grow. Those decisions inevitably imply we will miss out. And, we’ll probably be better for it.




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